Spring is a time for holiday, hope and rebirth. As the earth warms and the grass spills out in rich green, my spirit lifts and my mood lightens, despite a year spent in lockdown under the dark cloud of the pandemic.
As our friends of the Jewish faith celebrate Passover, commemorating their exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery, and our Christian friends observe Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I reflect on the power of courage and faith in restoring life.
In Israel, which has deployed a successful mass vaccination campaign, citizens are celebrating freedom from Covid and hoping for the passing over of the pandemic. According to The New York Times, in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, more than a 1,000 followers joined the traditional procession retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixion at Golgotha on Good Friday.
While the pandemic is by no means over, and the worry over the emerging variants tells us we are not out of the woods yet, Israel shows us that protective measures can be executed excellently.
But not every country is in the same state as Israel. Passover and Easter are not in the books for worshipers in other countries.
In France, Parisians are fleeing the suffocating city for the countryside as the country relaxes measures for the holiday weekend hunkering down for a third strict lockdown.
In Amsterdam, the famous Red Light District was unusually quiet, with no complaints about disruptive tourists disrespecting prostitutes, The New York Times reported. The city enjoyed some much-needed quiet, but is bracing itself for tourists again in the multiple holidays ahead.
In Brazil, in protest of the President’s handling of the pandemic, demonstrator dressed as “death” walked outside the presidential residence.
In Mumbai, India’s largest city, case numbers are soaring again, and the state it is in, Maharashtra, is prepping for more lockdowns. Despite being the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, India had its biggest surge on Saturday, and is expected to go under lockdown. Bangladesh will shut shop Monday with Pakistan likely to follow soon.
In Wuhan, China, and, in fact, all over China, the curve has flattened and flatlined. But the virus of hate against the Chinese seems to be surging.
As we celebrate Passover and Easter holidays this weekend and look forward to more holidays — The Tamil New Year and Ramadan later this month —we must look to what the spring holidays teach us: courage, faith, tolerance, hope and resurrection. And, yes, the need to believe in science and vaccines to help us overcome the scourges of today – the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the virus of hate – with vaccines and with empathy.